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Written by Shane Neubauer


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Welcome to the Curator Economy

Content on the Internet is growing at an alarming rate. Every minute of every day, there are 400 hours of video content uploaded to YouTube — and that was in 2019. Over 90% of the data on the Internet today has been created since 2016.

The Creator Economy, or the decentralisation and democratisation of content, has been a major driver of this, and has led us along an interesting path. After shifting content creation power from big media companies into the hands of individuals on the Internet, we've seen an uprising of people producing content such as writing or video courses, and in many cases, making a living from it.

The visible success of the creators, and subsequently the platforms that supported the creator economy, has inspired others to follow the same path, and has driven the economy further. Platforms such as Substack, Domestika, Gumroad, and many more.

All of this has resulted in more and more content.

The more content there is, the harder it becomes for us to find the most valuable thing to consume. The more we need to trust in an algorithm to help us find the right things. Things that help us achieve our objective, whether that's to learn a new professional skill, or to learn how to

The problem is, the algorithms that we are forced to depend on are the very ones designed to maximise advertising revenue on their platforms.

In other words, they don't have your best interest in mind. They want you to stay on their platform for as long as possible, so that you'll see more ads, and those ads will be worth more to them. The more you will be worth to them.

How much trust do you want to place into one of these algorithms, to control how you consume content? To control what you learn?

We've learned, from personally speaking to 50+ people in our own audience, that people trust content and suggestions that come from people they know, or people they look up to. People with credibility, or people in groups with credibility.

If Amazon's algorithm suggests a book you should read, you may or may not take it seriously.

If your life-partner—or Bill Gates—suggests a book you should read, on the other hand, you'll consider it much differently.

The key difference is people.

This human-to-human trust has led us to the next economy to shape the Internet: the Curator Economy.

There are already signs of this economy showing up. The revival and explosion of newsletters during 2020 is the most obvious one. In many cases, people pay subscription fees to people they trust, to receive curated content in their inbox that is valuable to them.

On the surface it is natural to ask why they pay for this content, when it is not originally produced, and simply collected for free. If I can just find it by searching Google myself, why should I pay you to collect it for me?

After reflecting on the accelerating accumulation of content on the Internet, it becomes clearer. It's just too difficult to know what to consume anymore.

The Browser, a curated newsletter of interesting articles on the Internet, has over 10,000 paid subscribers, each committing $49 per year. That's nearly half a million dollars in annual recurring revenue.

Why does this happen?

It's natural to compensate a deficit in one resource with a surplus in another. A busy professional may buy an expensive gift for a friend in lieu of hand-crafting one, because they have more money than time.

In this case, people who have a time and focus deficit can compensate by paying a small monthly subscription fee. In return they get to consume content that was picked and vetted by a real human. The value is real.

While this trend is already emerging, the tools have not yet caught up. Just like any new trend, first there are the signals and human behaviour begins to shift, then people patch existing tools together to create solutions to the new problems emerging, and finally the innovation occurs in tools to support the growth of that trend. We're currently in the middle of this transition.

Curation may have grown up on the back of the newsletter explosion of 2020, but it's clear that the existing newsletter tools are not built for such purpose. They solve for distribution, and leave the curator to build their own workflows and methods themselves. How do you collect resources, organise, categorise, and contextualise them, before building the newsletter?

Currently this tooling doesn't exist.

Curators build up their own duct-tape systems using platforms like Notion or Airtable, which work just well enough to get by, but not well enough to support their practice as it achieves success and grows.

Beyond is the first platform built for the Curator Economy. With Beyond, curators are in the drivers seat for collecting, organising, publishing, and monetising. They can build their audience directly on the platform, and grow their practice into a thriving personal business.

Consumers of content can find the best content on the topics they care about, curated by a real person that they know or look up to.

Welcome to the Curator Economy.

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